Does your unit have a large student cohort with lots of tutorials? Are you finding it time consuming to allocate all the students to assignment groups?

Colin Zhang from the Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics in MQBS had exactly that problem. Until now!

The problem:

Placing large numbers of students into groups is time consuming

As a Unit Convenor of a large second year unit (ACST2001 Financial Modelling: 440-500 students enrolled every session), I faced some problems with creating assignment groups for my students. For my unit, I need to create random assignment groups for students from the same tutorial class. Although I can use the tool on iLearn to do so, the process is not automatic, and I need to repeat the grouping process for every single tutorial. Since I usually have 20-30 tutorial classes, it could be very time consuming to generate the random groups within each tutorial class via iLearn.

Colin Zhang, MQBS

The solution:

A tool to generate the groups automatically!

Colin developed what he calls a ‘group generator tool’. Essentially, it’s a spreadsheet with built-in VBA (Visual Basics for Applications) code. It is suitable for a large unit with group assessments.

Easy to use

Users just need to copy and paste the student ID’s and Tutorial class to the spreadsheet. Students will be randomly placed into a group with other students from the same tutorial class.

See how simple it is to use in this demonstration (4 minutes).

Click on the image on the left to view.

Automatic and time efficient

This tool can save a lot of time to create groups and can improve working efficiency.


Users can freely choose the group size, e.g., 5 students in a group.

Enhanced student engagement

In Colin’s experience, students were found to have better group engagement when their group members were from the same tutorial class.


Here’s how to access the ‘Group Generator Tool’

Simply email and he can show you how to set it up for your unit.

Colin Zhang is a Lecturer in Department of Actuarial Studies and Business Analytics. He has years of experience in delivering lectures for a broad range of Actuarial and Applied Finance units. His research area includes life cycle model, optimal control, financial strategy and derivative pricing.

Image: Unsplash – Craig Whitehead

Posted by Teche Editor

One Comment

  1. Wylie Bradford 26 July, 2021 at 10:40 am

    Using the ‘Groups’ function in iLearn you can generate random groups in a straightforward fashion. I have used this many times to create random groupings for class discussions.


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